Some of the happiest periods of my life took place during college and grad school. I lived with a group of eight guys, and they were the greatest friends one could ask for.

We had fun moments of eating junk food and playing hours of Mario Kart and Risk.

We had physical moments of showing affection.

We had the intimate moments of sharing a cigar or a beer with our deepest thoughts.

We had the deep theological and spiritual conversations.

We lived in the mundane together.

Sleeping was not lonely as I often fell asleep in my bed after talking to my friend who fell asleep in the bunk above me.

Those are precious memories to me.

An unfortunate side-effect: I never wanted this way of living to end. This desire does not seem like a bad one, but it worked its way into a major emotional dependency on my friends. This emotional dependency reared its ugly head when my friends began to date.

These women were taking away my friends!

As their dating relationships grew more serious, I felt myself going down on their list of priorities. Some of those friends got married. And our friendships effectively ended.

I felt the strain, and I felt my life approaching a life of loneliness. I was selfish. I should have been happy for my friends finding wives, having kids, and raising families.

I’ve always had these same desires, so I shouldn’t have been upset at my friends for pursuing them, too.

One year, my emotional dependency was especially destructive. I was living with three of my friends; all of them were dating. I struggled with depression and anxiety, and thanks to my emotional dependency, I sucked the life from my friends. I added so much stress to their already stressful lives.

My greatest fear of losing my friends was happening, and the more I tried to keep my friends, the more I was losing them.

One night, because of my destructive behaviors, they held an intervention of sorts for me, addressing how difficult I was to live with. But this only made everything worse.

My friends and I now commonly label this year as the year from hell.

When that school year ended, I left my friends. I felt like it was the right thing to do, I felt like I was destroying their lives, and I had to leave. I fled to Wisconsin for a few months and Brazil for a couple months more.

This escape gave me time to think.

I realized how selfish I had been for being upset that my friends did not center their lives around me. I’d created a false dichotomy in my mind: that my friends had to choose either friendship or marriage, and by choosing marriage they were ending friendship.

While my experiences did support that view since two of my closest friends had married and ended our friendship, I grew convinced that it did not have to be that way with everyone.

One day, I called up my roommates and apologized to them, and they apologized to me as well.

We began the process of reconciliation.

We confessed how much we’d missed one another. It was hard being so far away. They did the greatest act of reconciliation, asking me to move in with them again. With great trepidation, I took them up on their offer.

I told myself that this next year I would support their relationships with their girlfriends and stop being upset at them for pursuing this route in life. That was a tough decision, because I kept saying I would only prepare them for the time when they would leave me.

Ironically enough, when these guys did get married, our friendship did not end. When I released my grasp on their lives, our friendship prospered. Their wives supported their friendships with me. I think they realized their husbands needed this friendship.

And I realized their wives brought out the best in my friends. I consider their marriages the best thing to happen in their lives — and my life.

Every time I make the trip to visit them now, their wives encourage us to get together. They do not get in the way.

One friend has a routine of buying a pizza, a six-pack of fine craft beer, and a pack of organic cigarettes as we talk late into the night. My other friend will go on long walks with me, usually to a body of water as we reflect.

It took a while, but my life transitioned from the view of hating marriage because it destroyed my friendships to the view that marriages can create better friendships. I do admit that I miss living with these guys at times, being in their presence all the time.

But it does make these moments of entering into their presence more special.

Have you hated marriage because it took away your friends? Have you experienced the destructive side of emotional dependency with friends who date or marry? How can you support your OSA friends who are pursuing dating or marriage?

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  • I strongly resonate with much of this. I had a near identical living situation in my last year of grad school and the two years that followed with four of my closest friends. I did my best to be as supportive as I could to them as they began coupling off with women and yet, one by one, our friendships ended as they married. As I would reach out to them they pulled back.
    During one nice summer evening three of us were hanging out in our backyard drinking cheap beer and talking about life. I shared my fears that what I would lose them too after they were married like I’d lost the others. They assured me that my fears were unfounded and wouldn’t be realized. But the same thing happened. I’m now in my mid-thirties and have seen the same pattern play out in the lives of dozens of people I’ve befriended.
    I mourn those friendships and live a very lonely life. I’ve come to the conclusion that God intends some people to be a friend without receiving friendship. I don’t think all side-b gay guys have this role, but I do. I should count this as an honor – I get to give love sacrificially to those whom God loves intently. But it is hard. And as Bishop Lang said so well in his poem, “brother, it is lonely.”

    • Thank you for sharing your heart, brother. I so resonate with your last paragraph especially. You said it so well…better than I ever could and I share the same sentiments. As I look back on my life at times, I mourn the times I failed to tell others how much they meant to me and failed to encourage them, but I am trying to learn this lesson and take contentment even when people don’t even say thank you…Brother, I just prayed for you…and I pray God will give you encouragement and support from others this Christmas especially.

  • while I did go through a similar situation with my best friend back in highschool while she was dating the guy she is now married to, I am going to speak as a person on the married side of things. While, yes, we have to now pay more attention to a certain person in our life because that’s just how it is, it doesnt mean that you as our friend are suddenly less important to us or that we love you less or are uninterested in getting together. And friends assume this. I lived in community as well when I got married, and even living with a bunch of people they automatically think you would be uninterested in most get-togethers or activities. I know being friend with married people can be a challenge in a way because yes, we check with our spouse and if the couple has kids its even more difficult, but if our friends are willing to put in a little extra effort, so are we.

  • One of my favorite posts in recent memory! I love hearing more of this road you’ve walked, Will. I could see and feel so vividly this love and support and brotherhood you once had. I’m glad you’re still friends with some of these guys. That encourages me. We’ll all have friends that come and go from our lives . . . but what a blessing are those ones who remain. And grow.

  • After discovering YOB more than a year ago, I tapped on this subject with another blogger. In essence I said that speaking personally, I wanted nothing but happiness for my friend (that goes for a lot of guy friends) and his wife in their new marriage. I want their marriages to be the exception to divorce and they’d last for decades. Yet at the same time I wanted to still be a part of their lives despite all the hustle and bustle of building a home and raising kids. As it turned out I just faded into the woodwork. So yes, I have hated marriage because it took away my friends although marriage hasn’t always been the usual “culprit.” I rationalized that since they were married now they were off the table when it came to single guy get-togethers. That is when the loneliness crept in followed by the isolation. I tried to interject myself on holidays or special occasions by gift giving for their family or new baby, yet this practice was so few and far between. Today my inner circle has gotten smaller at church due to mostly marriages and people simply migrating to another area. I have made and do make feeble attempts to expand my social circle, but the only single people I meet up with are well outside my age bracket (15-20 years younger). I feel out of place like I’m their uncle who’s still trying to play off the notion that my singleness and free spirit are still cool and hip for the likes of the millennial crowd. What are we to do in these situations? I just never want to be an encumberance on others’ desire for happiness through matrimony. Yet as selfish as it sounds, where does this leave me?

  • As a celibate gay Christian I truly hope to find other CGCs with whom to live and build a life around. I truly understand the fear you have expressed in this piece and have witnessed friendships change, not necessarily for the better, when friends have started dating or have gotten married. I’ve been able to remain friends with some of them, but we are no longer close – our friendships no longer intimate. I don’t blame this on the spouse or the institution, but in the end on our lack of commitment to each other. That is why I would love to establish a small community of men bound by their shared sexuality and commitment to God. I am pretty sure I’m not alone in this desire.

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